Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Welcome to Summer...

Sitting on my bed working dear reader, the light is dim and the central heating is whirring in the background, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'm actually writing this during the month of November but heck, no, it's blooming June, flaming June, bright and sunny June....

My new lovely hair thanks to my amazing friend Steve, Looby calls him Stylist Steve, I think he's got magic haircutting fingers.

These last few weeks have offered many challenges and I ended up with an enforced weekend off due to less than perfect weather conditions.  I wonder if it's because I've not been shooting so many weddings this year, usually June is glorious unlike August, statistically the wettest month of the year, one can only dread what's going to happen this year if even June is letting us down!  So here's the thing, the rest of the week looks quite quiet and then on Saturday I have 2 portrait photo shoots, a 3 hour wedding and a 2 hour ruby wedding anniversary party to photograph and then Sunday I have more portraits, Monday I have portraits, this continues right up until Looby breaks up and we have our summer holidays, weather, you have a couple of days to get your act together and then you must let the sun shine through, the clouds must disappear and all of the fine rain which sticks to your clothes and skin must kindly stop for around 9 weeks, in fact actually if it was just nice until around Christmas Eve that would be perfect.  Oh heck, now look what it's made me do, I've just made my first mention of that C word, forgive my kitchen French and lets say no more about it....

Holly with horns, there's a scary thought!
Moving swiftly on and I have to say that apart from the weather related incidents life is pretty good at the moment, it's a gentle pace and I won't win any prizes for my rockstar lifestyle but I'm pretty content and happy and so are the kids and the menagerie I seem to cultivate.

Holly continues to be the laziest beagle in the world, yesterday she decided to get up at lunchtime, we went to Morpeth for lunch to celebrate my 8th Business birthday and as it was raining she went once around the town centre before deciding she'd had enough.  This morning I coaxed her out of bed at half ten but just to get her down the stairs took more effort than it should, she's definitely a teenager now!

So, 3 weeks on Friday and we're off to Edinburgh, Iain is delighted to get rid of us for a couple of weeks, we bought our rail tickets but we didn't buy returns because we don't know where we're going to go for the second week but to be honest I don't really care, as long as there's Looby, Holly and I I'm going to be delighted.

Looby goes to St Marys for 2 days next week and she's dreading it, she still says she doesn't want to ever leave Benton Park and I do know how she feels, when Looby leaves I'll have been a parent at that school for 15 years, it really does feel like the end of an era and the jury is still out on who's going to cry more, her or me!  Every time I think of my youngest child reaching the point of going to secondary school I feel strange, the completion of a life stage I suppose and those early days when all 3 of them were small and the days and nights seemed endless from lack of sleep and I guess I had moments where I wished them to be older, we all do that don't we on the bad days?  If I could stop time for a while right now and have the ability to enjoy some of the best days over and over I'd jump at the chance, I know time travel might not be within my grasp but at least I have the ability to remember the moments through photographs I've taken and those are the things I cherish whilst still leaving enough room in my memory and on wall for cherished moments and adventures yet to come. This last year more than any other has taught me to press record in my mind of the best days so I can replay them to myself on the not so bright days and then if you can recapture that feeling of joy you experienced then, well then you have the ability to always be happy and smile even on the darkest, dullest, and stormiest of June November days.


Friday, June 19, 2015

I Found Love

It's Friday, we've made it through another week or if you're like me and every other photographer in the world you're probably just gearing up for a weekend full of weddings or photo shoots, I have 4 great photo shoots this weekend starting with a much anticipated pre-wedding shoot this afternoon, 3 family photo shoots tomorrow and 1 on Sunday, not so much work that I feel overwhelmed but enough so I can feel that I can actually support us all.  I've started to write a weekly target on the hall board, it gives me something to focus on, something to aim to smash and I do always aim to smash it, even if sometimes it's more wishful thinking than the actuality of my life.

I've worked so hard this past few months to get us all back on track so that if any of the kids needed anything I could at least say "oh, yeah we can go out and get it on...." rather than "um, ah, I just don't know when we can do that"

There's much to do and we have a way still to go but I do at least feel like we're on the right track for the first time in what has sometimes seemed like an age.

One lesson I've definitely learnt is to never get too comfortable, never get complacent, never stop pushing, whilst the statement that you only have to be good enough still stands it can actually be quite difficult to achieve that.

Of course what it all comes down to is love, that magical four letter word, love has always been my buzzword, it's the thing I've always craved in so many forms for when you have love you can achieve anything and to achieve anything you must have love, love for what you do, love for yourself and love for others, it's love that keeps pushing us, love that makes us search, love that drives us to meet our goals, it is that which gets us through the darkest nights and the lightest days, it is always there in many forms but sometimes it can feel like it's eluding us, maybe because we only think of love in it's most traditional form.

I am however the luckiest because since December I have all the love in the world, someone who loves me no matter what I do, some one who cuddles me when I'm happy or sad, someone who is happy to see me even when I am as grumpy and crotchety as a sour faced fish pastille, it's totally unconditional and absolutely unfailing, who is it?

Holly the Beagle of course!

Have a great weekend, whatever you're doing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Captains Log - Update 16615

It's been a week, as they say, I don't particularly think anything staggering happened, my attempts to "nail the crim" in the police identity parade were fruitless, I think I am never going to be a crime fighting superhero with tights.  Perhaps it's best to just stick to being a secret superhero after all.

I want to give a big online hug to my lovely friend Gill who's beloved beagle Tess went to the rainbow bridge last night, Holly and I send all of our love and we lit a candle last night to help her beautiful paws find that special bridge.

Last week contained a lot of working hard and not enough walking hard though I did get a new Fitbit Charge because I found when I wasn't wearing one I was even more of a lazy lump than usual, I did achieve wonders for Mandy Charlton Photography though, It's a funny thing isn't it but the harder you work the better results you'll get, heehee, I know this of course but I'm the queen of procrastination and so easily distracted so it's quite surprising that I have just about come to the end of my Ebay escapades, I have a couple more items and 1 more pair of Irregular Choice to list and then I am done, the amount of stuff we seem to have gotten rid of is actually noticeable, it's amazing the things you hang onto even if you don't need them.  I do still have far too many craft supplies but I brought a box upstairs last week to start listing them and I looked at them, muttered "ooh no, you're too pretty" and quickly put the lid back on the box.  Who know's, maybe my new and fabulous streamlined life and business will let me do some occasionally crafty things!  I think I have to be really strict with myself though and if I don't do any crafting in the next 3 months it's a definite sign that I need to let them go.

Looby and I are getting quite excited about our week in Edinburgh during the summer holidays, just over a month to go and I am searching for dog friendly things to do and places to go, if you're in Edinburgh and have any top tips where we should go with Holly then do let us know.  I will also have my cameras with me when I am in Edinburgh so if you are local or have friends and family who want beautiful natural photos please tell them to get in touch

Summer is nearly upon us, I can almost touch it, you can see the kids are tired and ready for the 6 week break, and one look at the teachers at school tells the exact same story, school is hard on small people and even harder on the hard working teachers, they truly all deserve the 6 week break.  I'm not sure what I'll do when my children don't go to school anymore, the school holidays have always been my holidays too and September is more of a new year for me than January is, maybe I need to get Holly into Beagle school, heehee!

I'll be back this week with several exciting posts yet to be written, cupcake making, teeny weeny cute photo books from Printrbook and I still haven't shared all of the lovely images from our Edinburgh half term trip yet, so many words and pictures so little time!


Friday, June 12, 2015

When real life gets you down...

This past year has been a whirlwind of highs and huge lows, for someone with bi-polar there have been a couple of occasions when I have really had to fight as hard as I could to make sure I maintained my mental health as best I could and luckily (touch all of the wood in the house) I seem to have survived it much more unscathed than I would have thought possible.

I think I possess this wonderful ability which I've been cultivating since I first read The Secret in early 2008, I'd launched my business on June 22nd 2007 and I'd been lucky enough to shoot some weddings in the first 6 months, I duly raised my prices and work failed to come all, my first winter in business and also Pauls first winter as a gardener and I'm not ashamed to admit that I remember one particular week when we had £30 and that was before we bought food for us all, when we both went into business on the same day at the same time we didn't feel we had anything to lose and we were incredibly green and wild eyed in our assumptions so I found myself at the end of January 2008 wavering on depression, I asked for some advice and a fellow photographer (who shall remain nameless) told me in no uncertain terms that I should just give up now, there was nothing good about my work and he was only telling me to be helpful and straight down the line.  I don't quite know how it happened though, someone pointed me towards the Secret and at the start of February 2008 I gave my vow of absolute positivity to the universe and I can honestly say it's changed my life.

You may not believe in The Secret or its teachings, you may think that the laws of attraction are all complete bunkum but never question the fact that being positive even in the face of much adversity is a life saver and I think we all know by now I have been at the face of adversity many many times in the last 8 years but I am so proud to say that my business will be 8 whole years old on the 22nd June 2015, I think I may need to celebrate for still being here and retaining some kind of sanity. 

My business has been the one constant in a world of change and it's given me something to focus on even in the toughest times.  i'm not ashamed to say that when Paul left I lost my zest and love for the business I'd curated and built with such passion but I'm happy to say that I rediscovered my love, just like falling in love over again with a person I fell in love with my business again, I saw it with new eyes and renewed passion and it's changed the way I do things ultimately for the better.  I'm still rebuilding my wedding photography business, I know these things take time because you're always booking a year or more in advance but I know I'll get there and my portraiture business just goes on to grow and thrive with every day as does my blog, this place where I mind dump and write with passion and love and sometimes with questions or even moments of anger, this wonderful outlet I have is read by sometimes nearly 20,000 people in a month, that is a crazy sounding figure, can you imagine if you were all in a room together (having cake, obviously)?  That would be quite a party!  I also recently became a director of The Inspire Network, the amazing NE network of over 4500 entrepreneurial women and I continue to be a mentor for Virgin Startup.  So when I do get down, I remind myself of just how much achieved, gone is the woman who once stood in the street with no shoes not even understanding where she was and for that I'll always be truly thankful.

I want to finally just say one thing, if you are my friends, my clients, my future clients, a regular blog reader or a first time reader today (hello you!) then thank you because I couldn't do any of it without you!

Until Monday you can purchase a voucher valid for 12 months for a 1 hour photo shoot with 12x8 print for only £25 instead of £40, just drop me an email and I'll sort that out for you.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

5 Great reasons to have some family photos with Newcastle Photographer Mandy Charlton

It's that time of year isn't it?  The relaxed living of summer is nearly upon us, the winding down, the adventures, the promise of sunshine to come.

Each year for one week only I have a wee voucher sale, it always goes down so well as my lovely clients buy them for their future sessions in Autumn when it's the peak photography season, they buy them for presents or they just want some glorious summer portraits on the beach, in the park and of course they make the perfect gift for Fathers Day.

So all you need to do is email me and then I will invoice you for £25 instead of the usual £40 session cost, you're basically getting a 1 hour session at either Jesmond Dene, Saltwell Park, Leazes Park, Heaton Park, Tynemouth Longsands and many other places, my rule is that as long as it's within those kind of boundaries and easy for me to get to I will come and photograph you there, please check first if it's somewhere random as there might be a little extra for travel.  You get a web gallery for 30 days, you get 15% off all of your orders placed in the first 7 days (with further print prices starting at just £10 for a 7x5, £13 for a 10x8 and £15 for a 12x8) and you also get a complimentary 12x8 print.  Lets just think about that for a moment, that's one pretty fantastic offer and it's no surprise that these vouchers went down a storm last year.

I do need a little help on Facebook though, if you see the above photo (and it's on Facebook now) please share this post with your friends and family, Facebook won't permit me to ask you to do that without disappearing me but I can do it on my blog ;)

There are so many reasons to do this here's just 5 of them - 

  1. You want portraits of your family, beautiful relaxed moments you can remember forever
  2. Your granny wants to have portraits of her great grandchildren
  3. Your dad is never in photographs, give him a voucher for Fathers Day and he can't refuse
  4. Your mum lives in France/America/Australia/Bognor Regis and would love new family portraits of you all
  5. You think you might be famous one day and you might need some photos to send to the newspapers
Well you never know now do you?  But that's at least 5 great reasons to have some gorgeous family photos or maybe you just want me to sing my award winning (in my head) rendition of Wind the Bobbin Up, seriously, it's a future album release just waiting to happen!

There's also the reason of course that you'll just get some beautiful moments captured that you can pop on your walls and in frames and stare at lovingly until this time next year when you can do it all again!

Have a wonderful day and if you'd like a voucher just hit that email button


Monday, June 08, 2015

What Thinking Digital Conference Means To Me

LJ Rich blowing us away with her musical, digital tribute to Science

It's been a few weeks since Thinking Digital Conference2015 at Sage Gateshead and I've had some time to reflect and see what I actually managed to retain, everywhere I go I seem to talk about it, it completely blew me away and totally exceeded my expectations. I was delighted to be there as part of the Sage One Street Team and spent my time tweeting to the max with I'm sure steam coming from my fingers tips in over excitement at some points!

Now let me tell you a story of how I came to know of Thinking Digital in the first place.  The year was 2008 and I joined this little microblogging site called Twitter (who knew that 8 years later I would be named as the 167th most influential tweeter in the North East (higher than Cheryl Cole by quite a few places) out of a mere 2 million NE tweeters,  anyway back to 8 years ago, well what happened next was that I somehow ended up being part of the most amazing creative and digital community in Newcastle and after a few years of livestream and one year in the livecast lounge I finally made it to the conference for the whole 2 days in the main hall plus the conference dinner and closing party, sadly I couldn't make the opening party as I was with my gorgeous daughter Looby at the RTS youth media awards but next year I am clearing my diary for the whole shebang, oh and maybe Thinking Digital Manchester in November if I can wangle some time off to be be there.

It's hard to know where to start with highlights, there were literally so many - 

I was blown away by Tara Shears a particle physicist, her enthusiasm for her specialist subject gave me a greater understanding about the Higgs Boson and what it means for us, I'm very excited that the LHC is currently being switched on again and I'm pretty certain that we won't all be swallowed up by a huge black hole... or will we?

Tim Lebrecht spoke to my soul about being in love with your business, being a business romantic, how can we make business more magical, as you know I believe love is at the core of our very beings and the more love we have the more possibilities there are of amazing and magical things happening around us and not just in a romantic way but also in a life way, a business way, every word he spoke resonated with the things I believe and I was delighted to be able to spend some much needed "Thick Time" with some great digital friends, Laura from Sharpe Recruitment, George from Epic Times, and Graham from Canny Insights.  You see the thing for me is that Thinking Digital is about more than just the conference, it's about the community and one of my highlights was finally meeting Herb Kim, we've been friends on Facebook for several years and finally at the closing party we actually met in real life!

Thinking Digital isn't just about innovation, it's also about inspiration and I couldn't have been more creatively inspired, it's made me think about my own business and what can I do better, one of the speakers talked about not doing new stuff, there is no new stuff, we must just learn to do what we do but better and I think that's what I'm attempting to do in my business, I am the worst for going out on a whim when I need to just buckle down, work harder, work better, work smarter!

I'm sure over the next year I'll use lots of what I learned at Thinking Digital, I have notes, I have photographs, I have videos, if you have never heard music live coded then I would urge you to go and check out Sam Aaron, the man is quite honestly a genius although he did say that 10 year olds are brilliant at this stuff, well I'm neither 10 nor fluent in Raspberry Pi so I'll have to just enjoy the work of Sam.

One person I would definitely want to see again is Steve Mould and in fact I've urged my son that we need to go to the festival of the spoken nerd when it comes to Newcastle later this year, Steve was one of the most engaging speakers I think I've ever seen, to talk about data collection and correctly predicting the birth time of your daughter whilst your wife is in labour is quite literally the most brilliant and hilarious presentation I've seen for a long time although I did think "his poor wife" at one point!!

I could go on for pages and pages but I hope I've done enough to whet your appetite to come along to the conference next year or Thinking Digital Manchester which is in the autumn, the tickets for both that and Thinking Digital 2016 are on sale for the bargain price of only £99 and you'll have to believe me when I say that even 1 of those speakers would be worth the admission price alone!


Sunday, June 07, 2015

This week = Too Much Drama!

It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting on my bed, Holly is sleeping on the end having decided that it's far too early to actually contemplate doing anything, I love these lazy weekend mornings, my first photo shoot at ten was rescheduled due to a poorly child which means I don't have to be in Saltwell Park until 11am.  It's nice to have just a little extra time to chill and reflect on the week gone by.

I have to say that this week has contained far too much drama and didn't at all end up being the way I thought it would when it began, I had never envisioned that Holly would get viciously attacked by a huge Rottweiler who slipped his lead, and on her first birthday too, sometimes birthdays suck!  At least she ended the day with cake and drugs though so you can't knock that!  She's fine by the way, the dog bit through her tail hence the dressing but that should come off at some point today and after a couple of visits to our lovely vet she's going to be just fine once she gets over the indignity of realising that her tail has been shaven!

I'd also never put it in my planner to discover 2 youths in my kitchen burgling me on Wednesday, that's something you just can't imagine really, I don't want to go into too many details but suffice to say that the police are on the case and they have been amazing.

In spite of such negative events good things have happened this week, I've been asked to housesit  by the loveliest person (thank you, you know who you are) with Looby and Holly et al for a week in Edinburgh in the summer holidays, my most favourite city and I can't wait, I'm sure Iain can't wait either, he'll be having friends round, pizza hut deliveries and all of the other things that go along with your parent being on holiday.  I can't wait to really discover and explore parts of Edinburgh we've never been to before, after all I didn't even know there was a canal there until recently, for all of the years I have been visiting the most beautiful city I know of we always seem to stick to the main city centre or the popular tourist destinations and you know, it's weird really because mostly when I go to cities I want to escape the city centres to explore the places and spaces that aren't so frequented.  I think an Edinburgh holiday is long overdue.  Even Abigail said she may come but it depends on her social life, I'm not going to argue, the worst thing you can ever do is try to make Abigail do something she doesn't want to, actually sometimes asking Abigail to do things she actually wants to do end up in the exact same way.

I hear myself saying sometimes "Man, teenagers are hard work" Looby being on the cusp of such life events had "the chat" at school on Thursday and Friday, I'm fairly sure that's made her decide she doesn't ever want to grow up and yet she continues to grow and change with every day, she's certainly started to exhibit some teenage behaviour, yesterday she didn't want to come with me to work but she didn't want to not come to work with me either so she sat in the cafe in Jesmond Dene for nearly 2 hours whilst I had a couple of lovely photo shoots.

You may remember that I am selling my life on Ebay at the moment, there are only a few hours until the first batch of what has now resulted in 62 separate auctions officially ends.  When the hammer falls I think there are going to be a few delighted Irregular Choice fans sitting patiently waiting for Mr Postman, I cannot believe just how much clutter I am cutting down on, whilst I'll never be a minimalist, the current state of my bedroom shows just how much needless stuff I have accumulated, I'm storing it in here while waiting to go to auction winners, if you fancy a bargain do go and make a bid on my auctions.

I realise that I have for the most part fallen behind on blogging, I still have so much I need to catch up on and I wonder why sometimes life moves so fast that I can't even seem to keep up, I guess my problem is that I can't write without inspiration, I've never been one for scheduling posts because I like to get the writing vibe, go and get out my Mac, sit down and write, I never read it back and so I apologise for any occasional mistakes, misspellings or grammatical errors but I find I write best when it comes straight from within.

One of the things that got stolen in the burglary was Loobys phone so we went out yesterday and replaced it and now she's got a shiny new phone which does things, it's very futuristic for a girl who'd always just loved a blackberry with the proper keyboard but I figured she deserved it for not getting too upset when she had discovered it had been taken.

I've said for a while that I feel sometimes in life you receive tests from above to make sure that you are ready to move on to the next exciting stage in your life, well I can only hope that I have passed all of mine and I'm now into the good phase, the fun phase, the exciting times we'll remember forever, it's my favourite time of year right now, the sunshine, the long days, the promise of summer and 6 weeks of fun, laughter and adventure with my children, truly for me summer time is the time when the living is easy.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The woman who sold her life on Ebay

I've mentioned previously that I had several thousand pairs of Irregular Choice shoes and for whatever reasons I was going to have to sell them (in most cases my feet are too small for them after losing so much weight).  I set about starting to list them all on Ebay on Sunday and then I remembered each and every adventure my shoes had been on so each listing ended up taking an age to write but I do feel that I have rather excelled myself in terms of descriptions and adventures.

Sadly not everything I'm listing on Ebay is quite as exciting as my Irregular Choice shoes but I do feel that I could go about listing most of my life on there.

I can't quite believe some of the things I'm selling but I'm on a bit of a mission to declutter and also to reinvest some of the money into some new camera equipment in my business (should have been a painter, it's so much cheaper) and also I want to be able to pay for Looby and I to have a great holiday in the summer without worrying about anything, obviously Holly is coming along too, I don't want much, just a cosy caravan near a sunny beach or a quaint cottage by the coast, something where we can get away from the stresses and strains of life for a couple of weeks and somewhere we can reconnect with each other and spend some precious time before Looby starts at Secondary school in September, it's a big thing when your youngest goes to Secondary school and I have no doubt that our carefree primary days with no homework and many adventures will be remembered with such fondness in years to come.  I know that the workload of St Marys is going to be a huge shock for Looby, whilst Abigail was ready and doesn't mind doing 2 hours of homework a night she's very different to Looby, there are rather less unicorns in Abigails life and sometimes even their 16 month age gap seems so huge, how can two children so near in age seem so completely different.  It's strange because often I can see the connections between Iain and Looby, similar traits and behaviours though they'd probably never admit it but Abigail is so unique and different that I wonder where her quotient of bohemian is hiding, I'm sure it's in their somewhere but I certainly never expected to have a daughter who wanted to be a politician for the labour party!

Whilst listing all of my shoes on Ebay and telling their stories I really did remember every single one whilst writing the descriptions, a lot of them come from fabulous exciting times and bodacious evenings out, something I rarely have now, or that's maybe a little unfair, I do have nights out but they're much more likely to be a good pub quiz or a dinner with friends than they are likely to be a raucous cocktail filled evening with dancing until the wee hours.  I don't regret a moment of it but I'm glad that life didn't have to continue at that kind of pace forever.

I have 25 items from my life past listed on Ebay at the moment, I could probably list items every day for the next year and still not run out of the extraneous gubbins I seem to have collected, I remember now that I have very little need for most of lifes attachments, I love adventures and experiences and things you can't see or whole but things that you remember forever, the photographs of our lives are the important things to me.  I remember all the time that my youngest child is 11.5 and these days should be cherish and held onto for as long as I possibly can for all too soon in the seemingly sudden blink of an eye they will be over and time will have moved on.  The only way to move on is to start again afresh and that's what I am working on trying to do now.

I don't know if you're reading this because you want my shoes or if you're just one of my regular readers but why not make yourself a cuppa, go check out my listings, my stories, my adventures and you know what, if you want to you can make a bid but maybe you could just spread the word, I would love to be one of those pages that Ebay finds and then highlights as something humerous, it's all good writing practice after all and every single piece of writing I put out there on the internet is one step closer to a publisher finding it and helping me to finish my project.

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